Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Templars by Dan Jones

I requested this from NetGalley because it sounded interesting and I don't know anything about the Templars. If you don't know about them either, they're this Christian order that was formed to protect pilgrims to Jerusalem and ended up playing a big role in the crusades. Also, most modern portrayals of them (especially the 'Templars are still alive' thing) are inaccurate.

As a history of the organisation, this book takes a broad view, focusing not on the everyday life of a Templar but on the key events and people that made up the Templars or fought against the Templars. Since there are several countries involved this could have become very confusing but the author manages to make it one coherent narrative.

I found it pretty interesting to read about them and how they fought against the equally strong (and at times even stronger) Muslim countries. Thankfully, the author stays away from a discussion of both Islamic and Christian theology and/or which was right, instead focusing on who does what (and why), which I think helped make it an objective narrative.

Another thing I also liked that even though this is a book about a Christian organisation, Muslim sources are quoted as frequently as Christian ones (ok I didn't do a formal count but it definitely felt that way to me). Quoting both sides helped me get a fuller picture and to understand how the Templars saw themselves and how others saw them.

One thing I thought fascinating about the Templars was that their portrayal depended largely on the motives of the writer, something that holds true today. Usama ibn Minqidh portrays them as open-minded and specifically mentions that they let him use one of their Churches for his daily prayers. But another man, Imad al-Din, calls them "the worst of the infidels." The difference occurs because the former wants to talk about honour and chivalry while the later wants to praise Saladin.

I think anyone interested in history would enjoy this book. It's definitely a heavy read, but it is fascinating and after reading it, I wonder why anyone would bother making up stories about the Templars. The actual history has so much to draw on.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.


  1. I've always found the Templars to be so fascinating. I think I would like this one. I appreciate the author's balance and his not going into theology too much. Thank you for sharing!

    1. I haven't heard much about them before this, but I am definitely fascinated now!


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